Ban Rak Thai

Ban Rak Thai

A great day out on a scooter

More on Mae Hong Son

Formerly a notorious KMT (Kuomintang) army post named Mae Aw, the border village of Ban Rak Thai has reinvented itself as a kind of mini Mae Salong.

Travelfish says:
A scenic lakeside setting. Photo by: Mark Ord.
A scenic lakeside setting. Photo: Mark Ord

Residents are predominantly descendants of the Republican Chinese soldiers that sought refuge here after defeat by Mao’s forces, though very few veterans remain these days. Ban Rak Thai is also home to various other groups who fled Burma in former times including Lahu, Pa-O and even Wa as well as Shan families. The casual visitor would be hard pushed to tell the difference though, and most families in the village are involved in producing and selling tea, dried fruit and refreshments for visitors.

The village is cute with plenty of old south Chinese style cottages along a windy road around a small artificial lake in the centre. Many buildings are constructed using traditional methods of mud and straw. Low hills covered in tea plantations surround the village and the border is a mere kilometre or so further north.

Not your typical Thai village. Photo by: Mark Ord.
Not your typical Thai village. Photo: Mark Ord

We found many of the cafes and restaurants grossly overpriced and the tea tasting better in much more scenic Mae Salong and whilst the village has numerous (also overpriced) guesthouses they are largely aimed at local tourists and personally, we’d stick to a day trip. We ate in the first cafe on the right as you enter the village. A simple affair run by a Wa woman that was recommended to us by a friendly tea seller and who served us an excellent and copious Shan noodle soup ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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Reviewed by

Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

Tours in Thailand



Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son Living Museum
Mae Hong Son Living Museum

Fascinating do it yourself historical walking tour

Trekking
Trekking

Many options

Huay Sua Tao and visiting the Kayan people
Huay Sua Tao and visiting the Kayan people

Interesting visit and they need the cash

Boat trips
Boat trips

Go for a float down the scenic Pai River

The Bamboo Bridge, Su Tong Pae
The Bamboo Bridge, Su Tong Pae

An attractive and photogenic stop-off

Mae Hong Son markets
Mae Hong Son markets

A few to choose from

Tham Pla National Park
Tham Pla National Park

The fish cave

Tham Wua Forest Monastery
Tham Wua Forest Monastery

Only worth visiting for meditation purposes